Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Here's a copy of our Christmas letter (really e-mail):

Tomorrow's the last day of this year – crazy. It's been a wonderfully full, fun and maybe even a little crazy year. We've loved it!

January of last year we packed up our townhouse, took a short vacation to OH, and then we moved into a friend's house while they were out of the country (oh, and we were three months pregnant). While we were living there, we were praying that God would give us a house…one that was under 1200sq ft, on acreage, that we could fix up and remodel, around 200k, and near national forest to be exact. That's
not too much to ask for, right? Well, when you know the God of the universe, nothing is impossible. He says several times in scripture to "ask". So...we asked. You know what? God gave us the house (if you want to know more about the house and how everything transpired, go to the beginning of our blog and read up)!! I'm still so in awe about where God has us right now.

In May we closed on the house and Tom’s dad came out to get to work. We (when I say we, I really mean Tom, his dad and my dad, the weekend warrior) tore down some walls, remodeled the kitchen, and built an addition. The addition is maybe half done, and then there's more remodeling to do after that; we're living on bare concrete floors, very icky old carpet in the bedrooms, and the walls are bare drywall or old scummy blue and pink. It’s perfect! The addition will get built, the main level remodeled, we will in time get nice flooring, the walls will eventually get painted, and the best part is, we get to live here! We’ve dreamt of doing this for so long, we feel so incredibly blessed to have all this and be right where we are. To God be the glory.

The kids have done so well with all the craziness around here. They love living “out in the country”. They love our neighbors…especially the ones with the little white rooster, the pig we named Purdy, the horses and of course, Charlie the little miniature poodle.

Livvy is now 4 years old and from her dresses to her emotionalism she is every bit a little girl (though she’ll still loves playing in the mud and carrying around big black stink bugs). Her favorite past time is getting dressed up like a princess and pretending that she’s married to Tom – it’s pretty sweet. We’re homeschooling preschool right now and are hoping to start homeschooling Kindergarten in the fall. It should prove to be interesting.

Sammy is an oh so sweet and oh, oh so stubborn little two-year boy. He just got a race track from Rob, Beth and their kids for Christmas and he thinks that that is the greatest thing on earth! First thing in the morning, “Can me play my wace twack?” We’re enjoying watching him grow more and more into a little boy, which he’ll remind you of if you try to help him, “Me big boy” (though he also loves to play baby with Livvy…he’s the baby, with baby talk and all – you can barely understand the kid to begin with and then he goes ahead and pretends he can’t talk, oh brother).

Ben…our little Bubba Ben is five months old. He’s got some really great thunder thighs and a great double chin – chunky babies are so nice. He’s getting better at sitting by himself and is working on rolling from his back to his belly. Now that we know where this whole growing up thing is heading, it’s a little more exciting and a little sadder the more and more that he can do. Right now he can do no wrong (except wake up in the middle of the night), but check back in with us in a couple of months and he’ll be getting into all the little things that he’s not supposed to all the while flashing a knowing cute smile. Oh, Lord help us.

Well, that’s pretty much all that’s been going on here. Tom still works at FMC (though a broken arm has kept him at home working on the house and not on other people for the last 3 months – he goes back next week) and I’m at home trying my best to maintain some semblance of order. So far everybody’s in one piece (well, not Tom, but that’s not my fault).

Our love to all and may God richly bless your lives as He has ours.

Jenn (for Tom and the kids)

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Ben got his first taste of bananas. Mmmm. I was going to hold off until he was 6 months old to start him on solids, but he's been really acting hungry after nursing and grabbing at my drinks and food. He took to the spoon without any problems.


He protested mightily when there wasn't anymore.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Magic

Well Christmas has come and gone once again. It was a wonderful, magical time from start to finish. After the Christmas Eve service at church, the kids and I went over to the "Finney's with lots of kids" (eight to be exact). It was their family Christmas time so there were four Mr. Finneys, four Mrs. Finneys and 11 kids (not including my three). They were so kind to include us in their celebration since Tom was working a sitting shift at the hospital.

As we were leaving the Finney's at 11pm that night it started to snow - so quiet and peaceful. Once I got home and put the kids to bed, I proceeded to clean up from the day's events, wrap some last minute presents, fill the stockings, and make cinnamon rolls for the morning. Needless to say it was 3am by the time I got to bed.

I woke in the morning to the phone ringing at 7:20am. It was Tom calling to say he was on his way home. The kids were all still sleeping, even Ben. I got up, made coffee, put the cinnamon rolls in the oven and gazed out the window at the white Christmas God had provided. It was trully beautiful.

Once Tom got home, he and I ate our cinnamon rolls in peace (talk about magic)...and then the kids woke up. The kids barely touched their cinnamon rolls and then were off merrily to open presents. It was fun to watch them open gifts. Oh! I almost forgot. Somebody during the night or early in the morning had left a bag of toys for the kids on our front porch! I will always remember the site of that big bag of toys just piled into the white trash bag all covered in snow - magic! The kids got more presents then they knew what to do with.


After having some family Christmas time we packed up the van and headed down to Phx to see the rest of the fam. There too the kids had lots of fun things to open and best of all they had Oma, Opa and cousins! We stayed down there until Sunday night and then came back up the mountain. To end the Christmas magic, somebody had shoveled our driveway while we were gone. Isn't that cool!
Here's some pix of the family, and more family.
Our fam.

The whole fam.

Here's Ben's 5 month pictures. What a cute little St. Nick he was. I added Livvy's 5 months shot for comparison and Sammy's 3 month shot because they wore the same outfit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Must Read

These two latest articles from No Greater Joy are excellent. I love the stanse that Michael Pearl is taking...he's not afraid to call things what they are. The church has gotten lazy and soft. It's so easy to get distracted from the things that really matter but we do need to wake-up, repent, and be on our knees in prayer. I have taken for granted all that God has given me and I'm scared because I know it can all be taken away.

Hard-Times-Coming

Hope

In Romans 5 it talks about how through tribulation we'll develop perseverance, character and hope. I want the perseverance, I want the character and I want the hope, I don't want the trial. My soul knows that that is what it's going to take to bring about that true relationship and dependence upon God that I need and want. My prayer is that I will put on the armor, that I will be strong for the hard-times ahead...I need to...I need to be in the Word more, I need to be on my knees in prayer more, I need the true, risen Christ in my life... Not only for me, but for my husband and especially my children. What I want for them they have to be able to see in me, or else I am a hypocrit and my best attempts to lead them will fall on deaf ears... Lord, may it never be.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Funny

Here's your child:





Here's your child on TV:



Any questions?


- In our defense it was even an "educational" show.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day

Today has been a wonderful white wintery day. We woke up to about 8" of the fluffy stuff - it's so grand to see an acre of it! We got the kids bundled up and out we went. We had a snowball fight and Tom helped the kids build a snow man (maybe it's actually a snow girl - the hat and scarf are a little girly).


Here's the kiddos looking oh so festive.

The kids and I have been doing tons of baking. We've made five different cookies so far. I think we'll finish off our Christmas baking with making some Christmas Hollys - Tom's Favorite.
Ben loves to help too.

Talk about bringing home the bacon - well, not the bacon really, ELK! Tom brought home the 120lbs worth of elk meat from the processor yesterday. What's for dinner? Elk, of course.

Also, yesterday Tom got the clear from his doctor to go back to work. Yeah, he's healed! I'm not sure that's a good thing...can't we just live on love? I'm going to miss having him home during the day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Hunt, the Front and Feeling Festive

Tom and a couple of guys from church (Brian Ketter and Lester Finney) went hunting! Tom and Brian got drawn for cow elk and Lester was the guide. They were out a total of 1-1/2 days and they got their cows from the same herd - something about spotting them a ways off, then a car chase, and finally guns were drawn. Now we have about 100lbs of elk meat being processed. I'm new to this eating wild game, can anybody tell me how to cook it?

Here's Tom and his cow - he literally broke her heart.



The front of the house if fully sided. Tom and dad got all the way up to the top of the second story windows before Dad went home. So he finished it all by himself! He created some sort of hanger/helper to hold one side of the board while he nailed the other. Go honey!! Now he's working on the SW side...and it's really cold out there. Poor guy, out there working in the cold while I'm in here nice and snuggle warm...I think I'll go take a nap when I'm done blogging. :)


It's Christmas time again! While down in Phx over the weekend, the kids, my parents and I went to see Glendale Glitter (they string lights all over downtown, have lots of vendors selling stuff, etc.). We got to see a kid production of the Nutcracker and eat kettle corn - yum yum! Yesterday we strung garland on the island and then after the kids went to bed we put up the tree. Tonight we'll all decorate it and get out the nativity set. And before lunch the kids plus Anneliese and Amy Castle help make our first batch of Christmas cookies. I should have looked a little closer at the recipe, it's the kind where there's multiple layers and refrigerator times. So, they are not done yet and...maybe tomorrow we'll try to get it rolled and put the filling in. We'll see.

Here's Tom putting together the tree - He got a little hot!


Here are the darling little helpers.

And here's Ben over Thanksgiving weekend - he was getting his St. Nick impersonation down.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All Through the Night

Well good morning. I woke up 5:20am this morning thinking, "Wow, Ben slept all through the night without making a sound!" Then at 6:30am Tom nudged me and said that Ben was crying and asked if the monitor was working. Ooops. I guess I had the monitor turned down too low to hear. So maybe Ben did go the whole night or maybe not, not sure...but I did:).

So this morning I got to see a beautiful AZ sunrise. They are truly spectacular. It's great to catch one every now and then. Then at 7am the kids all jumped into bed to get daddy up. Now, we have chores ahead of us. The first is to tackle the laundry...I miss you Grammie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just Us Five

We're on our own for the first time in 6 months (minus the 2 weeks that Jim went back to OH in July for 2-1/2 weeks). Jim and Carol left for home early Friday morning after a wonderful Thanksgiving time with friends and family. Tom is now without his dad...there's been one call already to ask some questions. I'm sure they'll be more. Because Carol did such a wonderful job of spoiling us/me, I had to remind myself that I could do it all. I had done it all before..."I think I can. I think I can." And so far, we're doing great.

For me I need/want to get back to my schedule and my routine that I had before the tiredness of pregnancy set in sometime last year. So, yesterday we got back to it. We were all up in the morning at 7am, had breakfast together at 7:30, Tom read to us from Matthew at 8:00 (this is new to our schedule, but I've been excited about making it apart of our morning for a couple of months now), and the kids watched Sesame Street at 8:30. The rest of the day we ran errands and got some chores done around the house.
And Ben...poor little Ben. His world has changed so much. It started Mon when we got home from Phx...no Grammie to rescue him when he got bored. No Pop-pop to hold him after dinner. And then that night he got booted out of our bedroom and was put in the pack-n-play in the nursery with strict instructions to sleep through the night. He's had a bad habit of getting up at least once during the night just needing a binki and then getting up on the early side to eat. So, he's been left to fuss it out. And surprise, surprise he's hardly done any fussing...go figure. Now, I just need to learn to sleep through the night. I got up twice last night to check on Ben to make sure he was ok...talk about silliness.
So anyway... We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Friday night the little cousins decorated the Christmas tree. On Sat we went to Sahuaro Ranch Park to play on the playground and visit the rose garden where Tom and I got married 6 years ago (now that's crazy). On Sun I got to hang out with my best friend Mandy who was passing through and heading home to Denver. We had a great time catching up and playing with the kids. Good times. And now...Good night.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Livvy's Birthday & More

Well, we're officially parents of a 4-year-old. I'm not quite sure what that's going to mean, but that's what we have. It's still a little unbelievable. Where, oh where did the time go (don't our mothers always say stuff like that? maybe it's not just old-age to blame)? Livvy had a grand time on her actual birth day and at her birthday party. On Thur (the actual day), my mom came up with my Aunt Shirl. We had homemade pizza and opened some presents. That night Tom took Livvy out on her first date-with-dad (I think we're starting a tradition). She got all fancied-up and Tom took her to China Star Buffet - "They have shrimps!"

Yesterday, we had some of Livvy's little girlfriends over. They got dressed up, had snacks, decorated pink crowns, danced to princess music, and ate birthday cake. Nice, simple, and all Livvy favorites. I even made a doll/princess cake. I was a little frustrated with not getting the icing cake-free, but I'm glad I made it. Next time it'll be better. I guess what really matters is that Livvy liked it - I bet she didn't even notice the little chocolate flecks in the doll's dress.


Saturday night we had our good friends the Castles over for dinner. Here's Livvy and Sammy with their daughter Anneliese. And the next picture is of Ben and their 8-month-old Elijah.


On Friday Ben turned 4-months old. He's really not doing anything particularly new, but...He's just a really good baby. Loves to just hang out, be held, of course, and loves Livvy and Sammy. They can really make him giggle. I guess the biggest thing is that 3 nights ago he slept a little over 8 hours!! Not that he repeated the same the last two nights (darn it!) but we're getting closer. Usually he wakes still once during the night and he whimpers a little and then goes back to sleep. But, since he's in our room, we, or at least I, hear it. I used to get up and give him a binki until I realized he was developing a bit of a habit, so we decided to let him cry (he's a chunk! I know he's hungry). For a little more than a week now he just goes back to sleep on his own and is starting to show that he's over the habit and will sleep through without even waking - yeah!!!

After church yesterday, we had some other friends, the Baughs with their 2 boys Alex and Hunter, over for lunch. After eggs, bacon and pancakes we gave Jackson and Ruthy the tour of the addition (what's done so far at least) and the kids found some mud to play in - how typical.


The guys are still working on the siding. It's turing out to be quite a lengthy process. They have the SW side toally completed, up to the top of the windows in the front done and are currently working on the NW side (which "should" be the easiest side to do - but anytime you say that around here, it usually takes several days more than anticipated).

Well, that's all for now. Tonight we're going out to The Horseman's Lodge to eat to celebrate Pop-pop's birthday. He definitely deserves a big fine meal after all the hard work he's done...plus, he keeps blaming me for only serving him Mexican food and making him loose 40 something pounds. Anybody else need to loose weight? Come and live with us. Apparantly either my cooking is poor or Mexican food is so spicy that it makes the pounds just fall off. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Out of Africa

This past Friday we took the day off and went down to Out of Africa down in Camp Verde. We all had such a good time. They have a really nice setup to see all the animals and they have some animal encounter programs where you get up-close and personal. The kids loved feeding a giraffe, petting snakes, watching tigers play and splash in water, feeding a tiger, and petting an iguana (well, Livvy got to pet the iguana, Sammy had to be removed from the scene for screaming at the top of his lungs - oh, I was so embarassed!). Here are some highlight pix:

Livvy and Sammy feeding Liberty the tiger.

Baby Ben just hanging out.
Nice kitty, kitty.


Grammie and Pop-pop watching the snakes from afar.


Ben and I on the safari bus.

Sammy and Livvy feeding a giraffe a carrot.

Tom and the kids on the safari bus.
Livvy giving the iguana some loves.